Cyclists on trails need to know they don't have right of way, trail promoter says

A man knocked over and injured by an unapologetic cyclist says New Brunswick bikes should be required to have loud bells.Douglas residents Will and Deborah van den Hoonaard were walking on a trail near Mactquac west of Fredericton when a cyclist hit Will from behind. "He was going so fast, you would have almost thought he was in a race," van den Hoonaard said Monday.The couple said there should be rules requiring all cyclists to have loud bells to warn walkers, who have the right of way on trails.> If that means getting off your bike and walking, that's what it means.  \- Andre Arseneault, Fredericton Trails CoalitionDeborah van den Hoonaard said the cyclist stopped after she yelled at him, but he insisted he'd rung his bell. Then he kept going. The couple said they never heard the bell."We thought perhaps there was a bicycle organization or something that would promote these bells and perhaps the bells should be put on the bicycles when they're sold because sometimes people don't even seem to have a bell,"  said Deborah van den Hoonaard.Andre Arseneault, president of the Fredericton Trails Coalition, a non-profit group dedicated to improving the local trail experience, said most trail users are respectful of other users, but knows things such as the collision with van den Hoonaard can happen.He estimated that fewer than half the bicycles in the Fredericton area have bells."There is certainly work to do out there to make the trails a little bit safer." The coalition had started work on a five-point trail-safety campaign, and education was to be a keep part of it, but COVID-19 delayed the project. "We've seen so much usage on the trail and even before COVID and all the usage that happened during that time and it's continuing." Arseneault said people have to know who has the right of way on a trail. It's shown clearly on the trail map."They put it in a very interesting way. They say 'Wheels yield to heels.' So bikes do not have right of way on the trail." Arseneault said the smaller and more vulnerable you are on the trail, the higher your right of way is. While it doesn't always happen, cyclists should be yielding to everyone, he said. When it comes to using a bell, Arseneault said, it shouldn't be used a 'Get out of my way,' but as an 'I'm here and I want you to know that I'm coming up behind you.'"Doesn't see enforcement as answerBut he said there's no question bikes have to yield."If that means getting off your bike and walking, that's what it means."There's a lot of different people using the trails in different ways, from active transportation to exercise to recreation and to what I would just call bathing in nature." Arseneault said cyclists have to be aware of safety, but enforcement would be a last resort. His group would rather focus on education and addings signs to get the message out to all trail users.

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